Did you know that summer time ozone is just as harmful as winter inversion season? Summer time ozone is pollution created by a mix of emissions combined with high temperatures and bright sunshine. Even though it’s harder to see than winter inversion, summer zone issues do exist and can cause harmful risks to those who are very young, elderly and have pre-existing health problems.

In order to determine whether Utah’s pollution levels are above or below the current ozone standard (.75 parts per million), the Division of Air Quality uses 15 monitors to record ozone pollution levels in real time. Currently, all of Utah is designated as in attainment for ozone, meaning the pollution levels are not in an unhealthy state.

Although summer ozone is currently in a healthy state, there are days in July and August when the haze hangs in the valley floor and becomes unhealthy for Utahns. The hotter the weather, the higher the pollution level spikes. The good news is that summer ozone has a daily cycle of lower pollution levels with lower temperatures in the morning and evening. This means that Utahns can still enjoy summer by staying inside during the afternoon and enjoying the cooler parts of the day without exposure to high ozone.

Remember, each of us can do our part to help reduce summer ozone this year. Instead of driving alone in your car to your various destinations, try implementing TravelWise  strategies like riding your bike or walking. Buy water-based paint. Or switch out your gas lawnmower for an electric one. For additional ideas, visit our “What You Can Do” page on UCAIR’s website.

Amanda Smith served as the executive director of the Utah Department of Environmental Quality from 2009-2015. She serves on UCAIR’s Board of Directors as the treasurer. Download her White Paper to learn more about what DEQ and the State of Utah are doing to reduce summer ozone.